The Trump Trust Gap

There is no question that Donald Trump is driving the narrative for the 2016 presidential election, with every other candidate relegated to co-stars. Trump's challenge is whether along the way he burns so many bridges that he's unelectable.

Whatever the strategy, fundamental to a candidate's success is getting the voters to trust you. So, is Trump trusted? A new survey says no.

By sizable margins, voters say that in a hypothetical race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they trust Clinton more. And that is bad news for our country. We need candidates who are trusted and inspired. Trump's bombastic ways are burning bridges, and while Americans trust Clinton more, she has her own trust issues partially fueled by the ongoing controversy over her State Department emails.

My tech advocacy organization, CALInnovates, sponsored a poll by Vrge Analytics of 806 Americans. We asked them to decide, in a hypothetical election between Trump and Clinton, who they trusted more on specific issues.

As a non-partisan group, offering an endorsement isn't our aim here. We hope to eventually see concrete proposals from candidates from both major parties outlining how they intend to spur innovation and support entrepreneurship and the new economy in the U.S. if elected. The person who sits in the Oval Office not to sets the agenda but can push policies that can help or hurt entrepreneurs.

On the question of overall trust, 47% of respondents said they trust Clinton more while only 27% trust Trump more. Women were more likely to trust Clinton than Trump but while 34% of male respondents chose Trump, 40% chose Clinton.

When it comes to handling the economy, by a margin of 15% (46% to 31%), respondents said they thought Clinton would do a better job. This somewhat deflates Trump's continuing insistence that he will "make America great again." While he may believe that, many voters don't. More women than men sided with Clinton on this issue but 40% of men still chose Clinton.

Privacy and digital security are incredibly important issues for our members. With the FBI trying to compel Apple to unlock a cell phone that belonged to the alleged gunman responsible for the recent San Bernardino mass shooting, the balance between privacy and national security is more precarious than ever. We asked which candidate voters trust more to manage this delicate balance. Almost half of our respondents chose Clinton, 27% chose Trump.

The sharing economy is another important issue for our members. Many of them are innovating in this new arena and it's important to them that the government allows for continued, smart, growth. We asked which candidate is likely to understand the new economy and ensure that it is good for America. By a split of 40% to 35%, more people trusted Clinton to safeguard the new economy.

Even on the question of special interest influence, Clinton came out on top. Clinton has been dogged by accusations that she is too in the pocket to special interests lobbyists who have donated generously to her campaign. While it was close, 35% of respondents said they trusted Clinton most to not let special interests drive decision-making; 33% of respondents chose Trump.

The only question where Trump won was: Which candidate would be a better advocate for American innovation and entrepreneurship? More respondents (42%) chose Trump over Clinton (35%), which may have something to do with Clinton's stance against what she labels the "gig economy" or what we call the personal enterprise economy that allows people to define how and when they work by leveraging the platforms of the mobile Internet age.

Despite coming out ahead on the question of advocating for innovation, Trump clearly has a large trust gap he needs to close before November. It's looking more and more like our hypothetical face off isn't going to be so hypothetical after all as both Trump and Clinton are well ahead in their party races. We will be watching closely to see what kind of concrete plans each candidate outlines around these questions that are important to entrepreneurs and innovators as we barrel toward the general election and a brand new President of the United States.

*CALinnovates is a non-partisan organization and does not support or endorse candidates or political parties.